Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Writing Process: Sprints & Breaks. Get that MS into shape!

Dear Alison,

I made a mistake.

I didn't realize I was supposed to post Monday, May 30th. I deleted that lovely blog schedule you made us--that blog schedule that listed upcoming posting dates? I thought this morning I was being conscientious when I emailed you a request for a new copy. Turns out I was just being late.

But fear not, I have delivered.

Bob Marley makes me happy, especially this time of year when the sun shines down on us and we can jump into lakes without turning into icicles. I love swimming. I love biking. I love hiking in the woods. I love being outside, but I also love reading and writing. So, to fit everything in (as best as I can) I wake up early to read. I stay up late to write. I weasel time in during the park days and field days and carnival days and tie dye days. And you and I have taken up sprinting.

Oh my dear readers, fear not. We are not tugging on our sneakers. We are not breaking a sweat and burning our fair skin in the blazing sun. (Although, after some forty-five minute sessions, I have needed to cool off with a tall glass of icy cold water and a piece of chocolate.) No, our sessions work out our manuscripts. A few times a week (including weekends), we've managed to squeeze in several forty-five minute writing sprints.

Our sprint conversations look like this:


A few quick texts, and forty-five minutes turns into a writing frenzy. Similar to this...


Our writing sprints follow advice I adopted following Susan Campbell Bartoletti's keynote at the SCBWI EPA's 2014 Pocono Retreat. 

Susan writes for forty-five minutes without interruption. She ignores the phone. She ignores the email. She just writes. After forty-five minutes, her timer goes off and she stops typing--even if it's mid sentence. She steps away from the computer and takes a fifteen minute break to recharge her brain. She'll walk the dog, run a load of laundry, grab a snack. She doesn't look at email, answer the phone, or tweet. She's still thinking about her manuscript during that break, and when her fifteen minute break is up, she returns to her work with renewed vigor. 


Writing sprints work. 1,000s of words of content prove it.

 This time of year is especially busy for me. My mind wanders a lot because of my other demands. Our sprint sessions allow me to focus, and I love it. 

So, while I wrote Starr Lost in a month back in February. Starr Gone is taking a bit longer--but with our writing sprints it's in much better shape than it would be without them.

Sharing the writing love one letter at a time,
Kim